Smart City eGovernment Enablers – Public WiFi + Mobile Apps

Posted by Brian Hurley on August 7, 2014 in Blog

Cities typically deploy new services to:

  • Realize operational cost savings
  • Expand accessibility & availability of services and information
  • Drive economic growth
  • Increase citizen input
  • Be more transparent with citizens
  • Help citizens help themselves
  • Make government work better

Public WiFi and mobile applications enable a City to make advances in all the above areas and help position a City as a leading edge “Smart City” – efficient, progressive, with a connected and engaged community.

In general, Public WiFi provides data connectivity that allows devices such as cameras and sensors to be deployed to enable new services.  For residents and visitors, Public WiFi provides high bandwidth, low latency and no/low-cost data connectivity. This data connectivity supports access to online information and services.

For indoor (e.g. community centers, public buildings, transit hubs) and outdoor venues (e.g. tourism destinations, parks, sports fields) where many people congregate, Public WiFi can be essential to delivering usable data speeds for operating mobile applications and online services which require Internet access.

With Public WiFi, City residents get anytime, anywhere access to a City’s e-government services through mobile devices and mobile applications.  Visitors can have ready access to innovative services, which connect them with a City’s attractions, history and businesses.

Smartphone penetration has risen to over 56% of the Canadian population.  Smartphone owners are becoming increasingly reliant on their devices with 66% accessing the Internet every day on their smartphone and most never leaving home without it.  Despite the tremendous ramp so far, smartphone user adoption has huge upside.

Studies note that variations in income have major impact on the ability to access, use and adopt new technology.  Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide are often using wireless connections to go online and are likely to use their smartphone as their main source of Internet access.

A low cost or free WiFi service is expected to assist in reducing the resulting “digital divide” while in general allowing greater engagement in the digital community/economy.

A widely deployed WiFi network may have the potential to limit proliferation of cell towers in a City by allowing the offloading of cellular traffic through lower-powered WiFi access points.  City employees will be able to use the WiFi system which can reduce cellular voice and data usage costs for field workers and provide better access to information, and labour saving mobile applications.

Deploying a Public WiFi solution which includes both a WiFi-based infrastructure in conjunction with a mobile application services platform from Purple Forge will provide a world-class basis for introduction and delivery of new connected services to business, residents, visitors, knowledge workers and City employees.